How Is VLDL Different From LDL? – An Overview

Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) are the two types of lipoproteins that circulate in your blood. Combinations of different types of fats and proteins form lipoproteins. VLDL and LDL carry triglycerides and cholesterol in your bloodstream. Triglycerides are fats that store extra energy in body cells. Cholesterols are fatty substances that help build cells. VLDL and LDL differ in the percentages of protein, triglyceride, and cholesterol level.

  • LDL has more of cholesterol and VLDL has more of triglycerides.

  • LDL and VLDL are known as ‘bad’ type of cholesterols.

  • Your body requires both of these. But too much of VLDL and LDL create harmful build ups in your arteries.

  • These may lead to risk for stroke and heart disease.

In the below post, we will discuss what are lipoproteins, how are these formed, along with differentiation between LDL and VLDL. We will also throw light on testing for LDL and VLDL, how to reduce the level of these lipoproteins, and make for a better health.

What Are Lipoproteins? How Are These Formed?

Lipoproteins transport several components such as fat, protein, and cholesterol, throughout your system. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) and Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) mostly transport cholesterol and fat, but the amount of these components differs in each other.

Let us look how lipoproteins form:

  • So you eat food, but it may provide more calories and energy than your body actually needs.

  • Now, the liver does the job of breaking down some of the proteins and carbohydrates.

  • This leads to the forming of cholesterol and fat (triglycerides).

  • Adipose tissue or fat cells store the fat produced at liver, which is a fat-producing organ.

  • Water (blood) and oil (fat) do not mix well. To get over this issue, the liver exports fat (triglycerides) by coating it with cholesterol, phospholipid shell, and protein.

  • A phospholipid shell acts as an emulsifier in order to mix blood and fat. The resulting product is lipoprotein.

What is VLDL?

The liver creates VLDL, which in turn carries triglycerides in your body. By weight VLDL contains 70% triglycerides, 10% each of cholesterol, proteins, and other fats. The body cells use triglycerides from VLDL for energy. Now, you consume food items that have more of sugars and carbohydrates than your body can burn. This leads to excessive amounts of triglycerides. Thus, in such a case, the blood may contain high levels of VLDL. The fat cells store extra triglycerides. These are released when your body needs energy.

  • High level of triglycerides is responsible for build up of hard deposits on the walls of your arteries. Plaque or the hard deposits build up on arteries can lead to stroke and heart disease.

  • This may even lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome.

  • High level of triglycerides is because of increased blood pressure and inflammation.

  • Or it may occur due to changes in the lining of blood vessels.

  • This may even take place due to low levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein), the ‘good’ cholesterol.

What is LDL?

Some of the VLDL clears out from the bloodstream. The enzymes in blood transform the remaining to low-density lipoprotein. The LDL contains higher percentage of cholesterol and lower percentage of triglycerides as against VLDL. By weight LDL is made up of 26% cholesterol, 25% proteins, 15% other fats, and 10% triglycerides. LDL is responsible to carry cholesterol in your body system.

Too much of cholesterol can cause high level of LDL, leading to plaque deposit in arteries. The deposits in arteries gradually cause atherosclerosis. This disease causes plaques to harden and narrow the arteries. Thus, the risk to stroke and heart disease too increase. To tackle heart diseases, however, doctors look beyond cholesterol levels, and suggest the right treatment plan. The treatment option depends on the level of LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol in body, along with other factors.

LDL, VLDL, and Heart Disease

The liver releases VLDL into your system. Now, this lipoprotein contains maximum of triglycerides. On the other hand, LDL has more of cholesterol. Once these are released in bloodstream, the blood enzymes interact with triglycerides in the lipoprotein, leading to either low density or very low density lipoprotein. If you have high levels of LDL and VLDL, then an oxidation process leads to plaque formation in the walls or arteries.

This damages the linings of vessels, causing heart diseases. To reduce oxidation process, you may have to follow a diet that includes vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C. These vitamins inhibit the process of oxidation.

Testing for VLDL and LDL

LDL is tested in a cholesterol test, which is one of the routine physical examinations. Doctors recommend that individuals over 20 years of age must get their cholesterol level checked every 4 to 6 years. Moreover if your family history shows a trend of cardiovascular disease, then you must get cholesterol tests done often. The frequent checks will monitor the level of total cholesterols. This will allow the health practitioner to suggest the right treatment.

While there is a specific test for LDL, there is none for VLDL. The latter is determined depending on the level of triglycerides in blood. The level of triglycerides is visible in a cholesterol test. But, if you want to know a confirmed status on VLDL level, then you must request your doctor for the same. If you are at a risk of cardiovascular disease, then get your VLDL level checked. You may even have to do so if suffering from abnormal cholesterol conditions or have an early onset to cardiovascular problem.

Risk factors for heart diseases include:

  • Increase in weight

  • Progressing age

  • Smoking

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Smoking

  • Unhealthy diet containing more of sugar and animal fat and less of fibre, vegetable, and fruit

  • Lack of regular physical activity

How to Lower VLDL and LDL Levels?

To lower the level of LDL and VLDL in circulation, you must eat healthy variety of foods, and increase physical exercise. Other ways are to reduce the consumption of alcohol and quit smoking.

You must consult your doctor to get the best recommendation for diet and lifestyle changes:

  • Exercising helps keep body weight in check. It keeps you fit physically as well as mentally. Since you need to lower bad cholesterol, you have to use energy stored in your body. To do so, you need to exercise daily for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Consumption of fatty foods such as red meat, cheese, butter, etc can increase cholesterol in body. So, you must avoid intake of such food items.

  • Things to include in diet are steel-cut oatmeal, nuts, salmon, halibut, and other fishes rich in omega-3 fatty acids that increase level of ‘good’ cholesterol.

To Conclude

VLDL and LDL are ‘bad’ types of cholesterol in your blood. They differ in the amount of components they carry. VLDL cholesterol has minimal protein as it contains and transports mostly triglycerides. Thus, the VLDL level must be less than 40 mg/dL. LDL cholesterol contains and carries some protein, low triglycerides, but mostly cholesterol in the blood.

The level of LDL must be less than 130 mg/dl or 100 mg/dl. To remain healthy, you must prevent these lipoproteins from clogging the arteries. For this, you must follow a diet to lower the level of cholesterol, and bring a few lifestyle changes.